Mail Carrier In Big Trouble Because Stealing Checks Sent To Charities Is Definitely Illegal

An ex-mail carrier in suburban Chicago is pleading guilty to pilfering $275,000 in donations that were heading to a charity on his route, after being charged for stealing more than 29,400 pieces of mail in the effort. Perhaps he read his job description as “cash collector” or thought no one would be any the wiser.

CBS Chicago said he is facing one felony count of possessing stolen mail, after admitting to taking $17,741 in cash, $250,346 in checks, $6,143 in credit card payments, and $1,681 from around 25 donors. The charity hasn’t been named in the proceedings. If he’s convicted he could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine — not to mention having to give back all that money he confiscated.

Obviously the post office was none too pleased with its employee.

“It’s unfortunate that a postal employee would consider stealing mail from anyone, let alone a charitable organization,” said Scott Caspell, Executive Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. “The vast majority of postal employees are honest, hard working public servants whose daily efforts instill trust in America’s postal system. … The message needs to be clear — postal employees who steal or abandon mail, will be throwing away their postal career and face criminal prosecution.”

This isn’t the first mail carrier we’ve come across behaving badly, but then again, there are excellent USPS employees out there as well doing good deeds.

Former Mail Carrier Admits Stealing $275K In Charity Donations [CBS Chicago]


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  1. Lethe says:

    Maybe I don’t have enough of a criminal mind, but what could he do with the cheques?

    • scoutermac says:

      I was kind of thinking the same thing. How you do cash a check made out to a Charity that does not have your name on it? I suppose there are ways but it seems it would be difficult.

      • huadpe says:

        This reminds me of a story I heard once of a guy who worked at the IRS whose first and middle initials were I. R. and whose last name was smith. He would take checks made out to “IRS” and add “mith” to the end of the pay to the order of line. It might be an urban legend, but it seems like it could happen if the charity has an abbreviation for a name.

      • edman007 says:

        I doubt the banks really check it if nobody says anything, and now with cashing on the phone, they don’t even get real paper and can’t check the security stuff. The phone apps seem to just verify it looks like a check, and guesses at what the value is and reads off the account number. My bank lets me change the account number and value of the check after scanning and it will put it through as a transaction, and I’m somewhat doubtful any human actually looks at it (and if they do they are probably concerned more with account numbers and value than the name on the check). If someone complains however they got the records and can reverse it and take you to court quite easily.

    • RenegadePlatypus says:

      I don’t know what he planned to do with the checks…. but if it doesn’t rub the lotion on its skin, it gets the hose again.

    • cactus jack says:

      My guess is just scribble on it Pay to the Order Of: X, scribbled name afterwards on the back of the check. I’m guessing banks generally do not check anything until someone calls them to tell them something is wrong.

      • scoutermac says:

        True. I’ve had banks do some strange things. I wonder how he got caught. I did not see that in the article.

        • cactus jack says:

          It always seems to take a long time for USPS to catch anyone. I remember one guy in Fargo, ND who got away with years of dumpster rummaging for undeliverable DVDs to sell them on eBay.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      You can “wash” the cheque, or find a not so thorough bank to cash at.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Stealing from the charity was probably his smartest idea in this scheme.

      The charity doesn’t know to expect a check, so it won’t report it as missing. The check writer would have to see the cancelled check (which you don’t get in the mail anymore) was deposited/cashed by some dude, and know that dude isn’t part of the charity.

      You steal a check from the local power company, and the check writer is going to follow up when his next bill comes with an overdue amount. That check is then traced and investigated.

      Now, how he goes about depositing or cashing those checks, I’ll leave to the comments already made on the subject.

      • Dagny Taggart says:

        Except that I would think most people would expect some sort of acknowledgement that the charity received it. Even if you use your check as proof of donation, one would expect a thank-you. I wonder how many donors were thinking, “Those ungrateful bastards! I will never give them another donation.”

    • animatedantmo says:

      I was wondering the same thing. And if the credit card payments arent cheques how does one steal those? O_o

    • wickedpixel says:

      Step 1) file for a business license with a name similar to that of the charity
      Step 2) bring your business license to a bank and open a business account
      Step 3) Steal checks made out to the charity
      Step 4) Cash checks
      Step 5) Profit!

      • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

        That’s a lot more work than just lifting the ink off by washing the check and changing it to be made out to yourself.

    • NotEd says:

      The easiest way to forge a check is to already have a one that is filled out in your posession. Then you have an account number and routing number, as well as a sample of a legitsignature.
      You could print your own at that point, if you wanted.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Check cashing clerks will usually cash a check made out to someone else for a slightly larger “fee” than usual.

  2. dolemite says:

    “one felony count of possessing stolen mail”. “Up to 5 years in prison.” This is the charge you are I would get for stealing out of mailboxes. A federal employee robbing citizens and taking advantage of his position or office should get more. Well the same goes for cops and other officials found guilty of crimes that were committed while on duty and serving the public trust. They should face higher penalties.

  3. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    $17,741 in cash? How did they come up with this number? I could see saying he stole over $17,000 in cash, but this amount seems pretty specific.

    I wonder if the mastermind kept records!

  4. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    He’ll get a job at the TSA to pay back the debts.

  5. Difdi says:

    Steal one letter, get charged with one felony. Steal five letters over five days and get charged with five felonies.

    Steal dozens or hundreds of letters over weeks or months? One single felony charge.

    W. T. F?

  6. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    More importantly, who sends cash in the mail?!

    “$17,741 in cash”

    WHAT? : /

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Well, old people might send a few bucks to their grandkids in the mail.

      I think I figured out how they determined he had that exact amount in cash: He probably opened this stuff, saw the money/check/whatever inside, and then hoarded it all in stacks in his house or garage. That’s my best guess, anyway.

  7. fraterormus says:

    This happens far more than people might think.

    Two years ago my bank kept sending me a replacement Debit Card and they would never show up in the mail. After the 5th attempt they flagged all previous cards as stolen and had the next one tracked through the Postmaster Inspector General’s Office. When it didn’t show up in the mail the Post Office knew exactly where in the chain of delivery the letter had gone missing. My usual Mail Carrier was never to be seen delivering mail again and I got a new Mail Carrier and finally got my new Debit Card. Neither the Bank or the USPS would tell me what happened, and were very tight-lipped about the results of their investigation, but my new Mail Carrier, when questioned, mentioned that his predecessor had been caught stealing Credit Cards and Debit Cards from the mail and had over a hundred of them when she was caught.

    You’d think that after being paid such a high salary for no specialized secondary schooling, training, or skill-set, and such a nice benefits package, that USPS employees would be grateful and that it would decrease the likelihood of carrier theft, compared to those employees in other entry-level positions in the Retail, Fast Food, and Hospitality fields…but there is always going to be someone trying to ice-skate uphill…it’s just human nature. I suppose that is why the USPS has a Postmaster General’s Office & Office of the Inspector General. Carriers might think they are getting away with theft, but they will eventually be caught.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I suspect when my old mail carrier dies, there will be a story in the paper about finding his house and garage packed with samples. Back in the day, my friends would get samples in their mail, and I rarely got anything. I always suspected Mr. Mailman was too lazy to deliver them.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      In the town where I used to live, you couldn’t send or receive gift cards in the mail because they would be stolen. Two Christmases in a row it caused a huge issue and was the talk of the town. They finally decided to do something about it, and found that several carriers both at the regional sorting facility and at the local post office were stealing it all. What one group didn’t get, the other got.

      • Murph1908 says:

        I always thought that a mail truck around Christmas would be a good target for a heist. Not that I am the heisting kind, mind you. But it must be filled with gift cards, wrapped gifts, and online orders for gifts.

  8. NotEd says:

    Now I am so glas we didn’t move to Berwyn a few years back. Ain’t no check stealing going on in my backyard!
    (as far as I know.)

  9. herblock says:

    Unlike many companies that let employees get away with theft, the Post Office nails your ass to the wall and lets every employee know you act like this scum bag you too will be in Leavenworth. Saw it many a time when I was there. But why bother, there’s a charity here that has been around for years. They supposedly aid starving children. They get thousands a day in donations, and most of the money goes to their huge brick horse stables and arena that have heat & a/c.

    As for cashing the checks, unfortunately it’s too damn easy, as several posters gave examples.